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Does size matter? - Forno Bravo Forum: The Wood-Fired Oven Community



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Forno Bravo Forum Community,

You will notice a new forum at the top of the main page called, "Ask Me Anything". This forum will be used for live one hour "Ask Me Anything" (AMA) sessions hosted by people who are knowledgeable in different areas pertaining to wood fired ovens. How it works:
- Each AMA will have a "sticky" thread where the community can post questions they would like answered during the live session. This will allow everyone to participate even if you can't be online for the live session. These questions will not be answered by the host until the live AMA; if you need an answer quickly, you should post it in the appropriate Forum area for the community to respond.
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To kick off our AMA feature, we have invited author, chef and master bread maker and host of Pizza Quest, Peter Reinhart, to be our first host! Peter will be in the Forum on Monday, February 15th, from 7:00 - 8:00 pm EST. If you are unable to be online during the live session, you can post your questions in the sticky post. Peter will answer those questions during the live session on February 15th. You can view Peter's answers to your questions as well as what happened during the live session in the session thread.

We hope you enjoy this new feature! Please let us know if there is a topic that you'd like to have as an AMA and we'll look for a host!

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Does size matter?

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  • Does size matter?

    If so, what size (interior diameter of dome oven) is recommended for various uses?

    My supplier of firebricks has three sizes of dome diameter to chose from: 1 metre, 1.2 m and a third which I don't recall offhand.

    The first is approximately 39in, the next one up a whopping 47.25in!

    Who uses 47in dome ovens, and why?

    Reason I ask is that I'm likely to only ever build ONE oven, and the work involved - or the cost - is not dramatically more for the larger one... (My wife says I always buy/design/make everything TOO big for our needs!)

    Any recommendations gratefully received by

    "I started out with nothing, and I've still got most of it"

  • #2
    Does size matter? The classic answer to that question is to say that it's not how big it is, but what you do with it. While having a really big one can make you a sensation in the neighborhood, the word on the street is that a guy with a really big one can have trouble keeping it up (to temperature, that is).

    In the pompeii design, the two sizes most often built are 36, which is good for one or two pizzas at a time, and one load of bread on the cool-down, and the 42 which is better for managing larger numbers of pizzas when entertaining. Anything larger than that is best for a commercial operation that has pizzas flying out the door in boxes. Anything smaller than 36, the opening is too big in relation to the cooking dome, and heat is lost that way.

    The bigger the oven, the larger the amount of wood burned. If you have a national forest next door, and entertain big crowds, than by all means get the biggest oven you have room for. I think the one-meter is a nice size for home use, though.
    My geodesic oven project: part 1, part 2


    • #3
      I think this is a tough one. 42" is a sweet spot, and they don't support that. You have to skip from 39" all the way to 47". Glad I don't have to make that decision.

      I've cooked a lot in 35" - 43" ovens (Casa90, Casa10 and Casa110) that I have, and they all work very well. Anything larger than 42"/43" is getting pretty big, and you have to work a little harder getting the oven up to heat. You might feel funny firing a 47" oven to cook two pizzas, and you can meet most entertaining requirements in a 35"- 43" oven.

      On the higher end, we do sell 48" Premio ovens and the 43"x63" oval Casa160 ovens. I have always thought those owners must throw great parties. Or they have professional chefs come in for the bigger parties -- a number of customers do that.

      On the smaller end of the scale, the 31" oven works well. It's a one pizza oven and it does a whole chicken - and I know folks who think it's great. It's very manageable.

      It's smaller than 30" where you start to lose basic functionality, and I would recommend against going smaller than 30"-32" if you can in any way avoid it.

      You will note that I have not answered the question yet. I guess personally, unless you do a lot of large party entertaining, I would go 39". It's a great size. Multiple pizzas at a time and you can do a whole turkey.

      Or, you can toss their kit, buy standard bricks, and build a 110cm oven.
      Pizza Ovens
      Outdoor Fireplaces


      • #4
        I build a 38" oven and I think it is plenty big.

        The oven gets bigger when you add insulation and enclosure, and (going on Dmun's line of rhetoric) 38" is big enough to be respectable but as large as my wife can tolerate.

        My Oven Thread:


        • #5
          The 39er it is - most likely!

          I guess I laid myself open (no rpt no pun intended!) to such witticism, Dmun, but your, as well as James's annd DrakeRemoray's, advice is very much apppreciated. So I should really go ahead with my initial 1m (39in) 'kit'...

          But: I live on a 200,000 square metre (53 acre) almost totally timbered lot, and there is always heapes of fallen dry timber about even if I don't fell any more http://www.fornobravo.com/forum/newreply.php#

          And: in the back of my mind lurks this vision that perhaps my son (now in econo-mathematical PhD student mode at UCLA) or my son-in-law (a Canadian environmental scientist now living just 30 km away from us) or even one of my other two daughters or their potential mates may one day decide to go 'back to the land' -- and be glad they find the nucleus of a cottage industry such as sourdough bread baking or pizza-making for the idle seaside rich ready and waiting!

          I'll give it the weekend to mull over while I fix a verandah roof. And then most likely order the 39er...

          Thanks again for valuable considerations. And I sure like the tongue-in-cheek
          Big Grin
          "I started out with nothing, and I've still got most of it"


          • #6
            If they do decide to start a cottage industry of bread making I think most here would agree the alan scott (more thermal mass) design may be better. But if they want to make knock-down great pizza you really want high heat, and that's something easy to manage to manage with a smaller oven. Unless you have a high volume restaurant on the ranch you probably will not exceed what a 39 inch oven can do. I cook 2 pizza at a time in my 42 inch oven. Your time limit with the oven will be ability to assemble pizzas - this takes longer than baking. Keeping the oven hot is a lesser chore but may take more vigilance with a larger oven as well.


            • #7
              mille grazie

              tks, maver - I bow to the assembled wisdom on this forum!
              And I can always spend the dough saved on better insulation, i.e. Calsil boards and Insulfrax...
              Cheers for now (still on the verandah roof),

              "I started out with nothing, and I've still got most of it"